So here I am, a male Valley carpenter bee, Xylocopa varipuncta, just enjoying the nectar on this tower of jewels, Echium wildpretii, in Vacaville, Calif.
Some folks call me "The teddy bear bee."
Yes, I like that nickname. The late Robbin Thorp (1913-2019), UC Davis distinguished emeritus professor of entomology, used to call me "the teddy bear bee" and display me at the Bohart Museum of Entomology open houses, because, well, for one, I am "cuddly"; two, I resemble a teddy bear; and three, I don't sting.
The good professor always used to say "Boy bees don't sting." That's true, but I can bluff pretty well.
They also say I'm handsome, what with my golden blond hair and green eyes. Aww, shucks!
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" Me.
But just don't mess with me.
So here I am, as I earlier mentioned, just enjoying my share of nectar on this tower of jewels. Ooh, the nectar is divine. Divine, I say.
Wait! What's that? A honey bee, Apis mellifera, is trying to horn in on my territory.
"Hey, I was here first, Missy!"
Ms. Honey Bee shrugs. "Sorry, buddy boy, I'll take what I want."
Oh, the audacity, the audacity, I say. Doesn't she know that I'm bigger than she is? Okay, she's got a stinger, but I'm bigger and I can bluff my way out of this.
Whoops, she's moving! She's moving toward me! Oh, dear! She's closing in on me.
Umm...bye, bye, Echium wildpretii...your nectar isn't as good as I thought it would be. Not with that honey bee refusing to keep her social distance! I'm outta here!
As you shelter in and look for something intriguing to do, would you to learn more about entomology, the science of insects?
The Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis, home of nearly eight million insect specimens, offers a wealth of information on insects in its free fact sheets that you're welcome to peruse and download. Topics include beetles, wasps/bees, mites/ticks, ants, flies, butterflies/moths, true bugs, and non-insects (think spiders, lawn shrimps, scorpions, springtails.) The fact sheets are the work of Bohart director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
If you want a bug identified, you can also shoot Professor Kimsey an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As for how to create an insect collection, the Department of Entomology and Nematology provides a great resource. Back in 2010, distinguished professor James R. Carey led a group of students in producing short, clear, concise videos on just that: how to create an insect collection. (Many high school and college teachers assign their students to collect insects, as do some youth programs that engage in entomology.)
The entire series, totaling 11 clips ranging in length from 32 seconds to 77 seconds, can be viewed in just less than 10 minutes. "So in less than 10 minutes, someone can learn how to make an insect collection,” Carey says. The clips are tightly scripted, with an emphasis on brevity, simplicity and low cost.
The project won an award from the Entomological Society of America (ESA). Carey went on to win the ESA's 2015 Distinguished Teaching Award; the "How to Make an Insect Collection" project was just one of the many factors considered.
So, how do you make an insect collection? Easy!
Here are the videos:
Hand Collecting (32 seconds)
Using an Aspirator (34 seconds)
Ground Collecting (54 seconds)
Aquatic Collecting (58 seconds)
Using Nets (58 seconds)
Killing (51 seconds)
Pinning (43 seconds)
Point Mounting (50 seconds)
Labeling Specimens (48 seconds)
Spreading (77 seconds)
Storage and Display (32 seconds)
And rightfully so. We all need to take precautions.
Bohart Museum director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, announced today that the Bohart is closed to the public until Monday, April 6. However, researchers may contact the museum for specific requests, she said.
The public closure is due to pandemic coronavirus precautions and UC Davis directives. Bohart officials earlier postponed the March 21st open house on pollinators and microbes. It will be held at a later date, to be determined.
UC Davis Directives:
Updated 8:30 p.m. March 15: Acting on updated guidance issued today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UC Davis officials lowered the university's attendance cap for events to 50.
The cap applies to all events, university-sponsored or otherwise, in all campus spaces and venues, at all UC Davis locations, and to university events held off-campus.
“Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities,” according to the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, which recommends an attendance cap of 50 for eight weeks.
The Bohart Museum, named in honor of its founder, noted entomologist Richard Bohart (1913-2007), houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It is also the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. The Bohart Museum also maintains a live "petting zoo," featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks or stick insects, tarantulas, and praying mantids. The museum's gift shop, open year around, includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
Prior to today (March 16), the museum had been open to the public Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m., except on holidays. More information on the Bohart Museum is available on the website at http://bohart.ucdavis.edu or by contacting (530) 752-0493 or email@example.com.
If you marked your calendar to attend the Saturday, March 21 open house at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis campus, you can unmark it.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology has postponed its open house to comply with the new UC Davis policies regarding coronavirus pandemic cautions. Officials initially set the open house, themed "Pollinators and Microbes," from 1 to 4 p.m.
In the meantime, head out to your favorite pollinator garden and see what's foraging. You might see not only honey bees, but yellow-faced bumble bees (Bombus vosnesenskii), Gulf Fritillaries (Agraulis vanillae) mourning cloaks (Nymphalis antiopa) and more. Spring begins March 19!
"Studying insects is something you can do anytime or anywhere," Bohart officials said. "We recommend that individuals and families get outside and explore arthropods. Here are great info sheets for many of the common arthropods in a California backyard or a local park.
- Common Insects, Information Sheets (Written by Bohart director Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology.
- How to Collect Insects (Video)
The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, and directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology, houses nearly 8 million insect specimens, a live petting zoo, and a gift shop.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology weekly Wednesday seminars are now virtual seminars and are being live-streamed through Zoom and linked on the department's website, says coordinator Rachel Vannette, community ecologist and assistant professor. (See list of spring seminars)
The UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden Plant Sale, initially slated March 14, is also canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak, now global.
For information on the coronavirus, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
UC Davis Directives as of March 12 (See website for updates)
From Chancellor Gary May:
Acting out of an abundance of caution amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we have decided to take additional steps in our efforts to protect our students, faculty and staff, and the community at large, as we all do our part to help contain the spread of the virus.
We take these actions in consultation with the UC Office of the President, the Academic Senate and campus administrators, as well as Yolo County Public Health (which, as of today, has reported one confirmed case of COVID-19 in the county, none on the Davis campus). As this situation continues to evolve rapidly, we will respond with further directives. For now, this letter addresses the following topics:
Gatherings — Mandating the cancellation or postponement of events with planned attendance of more than 150 people, from Thursday, March 12, through March 31. We are evaluating this timing on an ongoing basis, as we continue to consult with public health officials. This mandate does not apply to instruction through the end of this week. Our overarching goals: For the sake of everyone's health, we want to minimize face-to-face contact, in instruction and office hours, in workspaces and large gatherings. And we want to emphasize to students, staff and faculty: If you are sick, stay home.
As we strive to minimize face-to-face contact, we announced March 7 that faculty and students have maximum flexibility to complete their Winter Quarter work without having in-class instruction. We are now strongly encouraging faculty to go online with their teaching. We said webinars would be available to faculty who needed assistance making the conversion — and we now have a schedule of four different webinars on quizzes/exams and other Canvas tools, and web conferencing and video. Each is being presented daily, every day this week. The schedule and links are here on the Keep Teaching website. It is very likely that we will need to have online capacity in place for Spring Quarter classes.
Faculty also are strongly encouraged to make use of other technologies, such as Zoom and Facetime, to provide opportunities for students to approach them with questions.
Graduate and professional instruction: Given the special nature of graduate and professional instruction, we ask the faculty involved to use their discretion in endeavoring to optimize curricular delivery (as well as graduate advising and mentoring) while remaining mindful of public health advice to observe social distancing to the extent possible. We encourage graduate and professional instructors to utilize opportunities for virtual instruction and testing where appropriate.
Yes, you can.
If you've been wondering if there's still room for you at the innovative UC Davis symposium on "Saving a Bug's Life: Legal Solutions to Combat Insect Biodiversity Decline and the Sixth Mass Extinction," the answer is yes.
The free public event, set from 8:30 to 6:30 p.m., Friday, March 6 in Room 1001 of the School of Law, 400 Mrak Ave., is sponsored by UC Davis Environmental Law Society (ELS), and aims to bring together law and science to address insect biodiversity decline. You can register in advance on the Facebook page, or just show up at the symposium, according to co-chairs Kelly Beskin (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Peter Jansen (email@example.com). The event will include breakfast, lunch and an evening cocktail reception. (Download the agenda.)
The symposium begins at 8:30 a.m. with a breakfast and check-in, followed by opening remarks by Kevin Johnson, dean, UC Davis School of Law; Benjamin Houlton, director, John Muir Institute of the Environment; and Peter Jansen, Environmental Law Society Symposium co-chair, UC Davis School of Law. Charlton Bonham, director, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, will deliver the keynote address.
Four separate panels will center on protecting insects and biodiversity:
- The Science of Biodiversity Decline
- Listing Insets Under the California and Federal Endangered Species Acts: Procedures, Protections and Repercussions
- Pesticide Use in Agriculture: Protecting Pollinators and Sustainable Yield
- Protecting Insects and Combating the Sixth Mass Extinction: Best Policies and Practices
Insects have been called "the level pullers of the world." One study estimates that insects contribute more than $57 billion a year to the U.S. economy. However, many species currently face extinction.
Experts in the field of entomology and agricultural sciences will converse with leaders in government, legal scholars and practitioners about the current threat to insect populations "and how we can use legal tools, policy and management practices to combat the sixth mass extinction," Beskin said.
Four UC Davis entomologists are among the speakers:
- Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, whose expertise includes wasps. Kimsey is the "go-to" person in the department when the public requests general insect information.
- Neal Williams, professor and pollination ecologist, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who focuses on native bees.
- Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology, who has been monitoring the butterfly population of central California since 1972; and
- Brendon Boudinot, doctoral candidate and ant specialist, Phil Ward lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
During the lunch time, the Bohart Museum of Entomology will provide an insect fair. Senior museum scientist Steve Heydon of the Bohart will showcase insect specimens as well as a live "petting zoo," including Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, and tarantulas. Also scheduled is honey tasting from the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, directed by Amina Harris. Graduate students will display their research projects, and the Entomology Graduate Student Association will be offering insect-themed t-shirts for sale. In addition, cricket protein bars will be handed out to all those interested.
Sponsors, in addition to ELS, include the California Environmental Law and Policy Center; UC Davis John Muir Institute of the Environment and the UC Davis School of Law.
Mark your calendar to "save a bug's life." It promises to be an educational and fun event.